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Mid-Autumn Festival and Mooncakes!

September 11, 2011 1 comment

The mid-autumn festival is one of my favourite festivals, it is usually held on the 15th day of the eight month in the Chinese Calendar, which is usually either September or early October. It is one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar and traditionally on this day, Chinese families and friends will gather to admire the bright mid-autumn harvest moon and eat mooncakes!

Now mooncakes, usually round pastries, delicious thick filing usually made from lotus seed paste and surrounded by a thin crust and may contain yolks (if you like them!). I don’t recommend eating them like donuts as they are incredibly rich! So cut them into small wedges and eat them bit by bit with tea or coffee.

There are many different types of mooncakes and I have eaten my fair share of them to know which one I like (and which brand!). Most common is the lotus seed paste which I like, probably most ‘original’ and most luxurious mooncake filing. There is also sweet bean paste, jujube paste or five kernel (which was 5 types of nuts and seeds, and possibly my least favourite!)

The crust, three different types – chewy and has a reddish-brown tone and glossy sheen, probably the most common type. There is also flaky crust which I don’t think I have had, and tender which is similar to shortcrust pastry – yes can be confusing and daunting for first timers!

If you thought that was confusing, now they have ‘contemporary’ style mooncakes with fancier filing like cream cheese, green tea, pandan, tiramisu, DURIAN (my fav!), coffee, and many more. They are also ice cream like mooncakes which are bite size so you can ‘pop’ them in your mouth! The crust varies also, non-baked, snowflakes, glutinous or even jelly.

Now, as you may know, my favourite Uncle is a fantastic baker! He made his own ‘limited edition’ snowflakes mooncake. I was told that the basic snow skin mooncake is the easiest type out there to  make and tastes quite delicious. I wouldn’t even dare attempt making them, so when Uncle said he made them, I thought I would post a blog – he makes it sound so easy!!!!!! He used a recipe from Anhs’ food blog.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words? So he has kindly put this photo together.

He made a couple of different sized mooncake, the one below he took – it only had one yolk.

He was kind enough to give me a bigger mooncake with two yolks! It was incredibly smooth and absolutely delicious. Loved the yolk as well. It was hard not demolish half of it in one sitting. Savouring each bite with a cup of tea. Thanks Uncle, it was ‘melt-in-my-mouth’ DELICIOUS!

Hope you got to eat at least one delicious mooncake! I know I did! I look forward to next year’s mooncake edition Uncle!

Recipe: Easy Millefeuille

My first attempt of making mille-feuille, a pastry originating from France. A vanilla slice, cream slice, custard slice also known as the Napoleon. Usually made up of three layers of puff pastry and with pastry cream, or whipped cream or jam in each alternating layers.

As you may have read, a couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Sachiko, owner of Dining Story, personal chef and cooking class services. I was catching up with the family, and thought I would make them the dessert that Sachiko taught me, Mille-feuille. It wasn’t as perfect as the one she made, but it was pretty good for a first attempt.

Ingredients (for 3)

  • 1 puff pastry
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1/2 pack strawberry
  • 2 egg yolk
  • 20g flour
  • 40g sugar
  • 200ml milk
  • 1 vanilla bean (I used 2 tbsp of vanilla essence)
  • 20g cream

Method

  • pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
  • cut the pastry in 3’s and sprinkle icing sugar on both side.
  • poke one side of the pastry with a fork and bake in the oven for about 15 mins then cool.
  • mix the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and sift flour and mix until it’s smooth.
  • heat milk to boil and slowly add to the sugar and egg mix.
  • place the mixture of sugar, egg yolks and milk into the sauce pan and cook over medium heat until boiling, whizzing constantly.
  • when it boils, whisk it for another 30 to 60 seconds until it becomes thick.
  • remove from heat and place into a cold bowl and add the cream. Put in the fridge and let it cool for a bit.
  • slice the strawberry.
  • put the cream on the pastry, and place strawberry then put another pastry.
  • repeat above process.
  • sprinkle with icing sugar.

Not as hard as I had anticipated, flaky crispy pastry, and delicious cream.

Desserts at home will never be the same again. Thanks again Sachiko.

Recipe: Pandan Chiffon Cake

I love pandan chiffon cake – even from a very young age, I would ask Mum to either make it or buy it! She would usually buy as it was ‘easier’. The softness and the fluffiness and I love the bright green colour! I have tried this cake many times now, a couple of times without a mixer – what was I thinking?

My mixer has been broken for a while now, so when I noticed a ‘spare’ mixer at Mum’s I couldn’t help but ask if I could ‘borrow’ it. I had no doubt that she would say yes, but I had hope she would lend me the newer one.

I have tried making this three times now, and it was indeed third time lucky, I am happier with my third attempt and can say that I probably won’t make it any time soon! I think ‘The Mother’ is a little over eating pandan chiffon cake. However, I can eat it anytime and every day!

I have tried many different recipes, you can find a full step by step on ieatishootipost blog. Very detailed, I had to read it a couple of times to make sure that I didn’t miss a step!

I used Poh Ling Yeow’s recipe (which can be found on ironchefshelli blog) but reduced the sugar and the flour. I tried using the original recipe with 10 eggs and my goodness, overflow and my cake was oversized! I don’t think my cake thin is big enough for 10 eggs and 300g plain flour. Have played around with the recipe, and I’m ‘happy’ with the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 6 egg whites (at room temperature)
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar, sifted
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 90ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon pandan paste
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 100g plain flour, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted
  • 210 coconut milk
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  • Preheat oven at 160C fan forced or 180C regular.
  • Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with an electric mixer till soft peaks.
  • Add sugar one tablespoon at a time thoroughly till stiff peaks. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks with caster sugar till fluffy.
  • Add coconut milk, vegetable oil, pandan paste and self raising flour and whisk until combined.
  • Gently fold egg whites into the yolk mixture in 3 batches.
  • Pour into a 22cm bake cake tin (do not use non-stick and do not grease).
  • Bake for 25mins at 160C forced or 30mins at 180c, or till skewer comes out clean.
  • When cake is out of the oven, immediately invert the cake still in the tin, and place on a cooling rack and leave to cool completely for about 1.5 hours

Voila

The cake was fluffy but not as fluffy as the one uncle gave me. It wasn’t too sweet, which meant Dad can eat it and believe it, with coffee, it was SO hard to stop at one. Oh the childhood memories…..

If you have a good recipe, please let me know and will give that ago in a few weeks or so. What’s your favourite cake?

Easy fluffy lemon and ricotta pancakes!

‘The Mother’s’ favourite breakfast of all time, pancakes with strawberries and drizzled with honey.

I usually use Bill Granger’s Sydney food book recipe – lemon souffle for pancakes, as I find it is one of the fluffiest and best pancakes, however, I had some ricotta cheese leftover and thought I would add it. I omitted the grated lemon zest and just added more lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 – 1 cup of ricotta cheese

Method

  • Place buttermilk, egg yolks, lemon juice and vanilla essence in a bowl and stir until combined. Add melted butter and mix well.
  • Sift flour, baking powder, caster sugar and salt into a large bowl.
  • Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in buttermilk mixture until the dry ingredients are moist, be careful not to over mix.
  • Gently fold the ricotta cheese.
  • Place egg whites in a dry, clean bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, using a large metal spoon.
  • Melt a small portion of butter in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and drop 2 tablespoons of batter per pancake into the pan. Cook until golden brown.
  • Transfer to plate and keep warm whilst cooking remaining batter.

Served it with strawberries, cut into bite size pieces and drizzle with honey.


DELISH! Soft, pillowy pancakes, it was absolutely wonderful. I managed to make about 9 pancakes from the above ‘The Mother’ wanted five stacked together.

Easy pancakes with strawberries!

Din Tai Fung, Sydney and Tiramisu Recipe

It certainly has been a long time since my last visit to Din Tai Fung (DTF) – can you believe over a year? ‘The Mother’ and I went to the DTF in Hong Kong and Taiwan and it was just as good but for half the price! ‘The Mother’ loves DTF, he claims they are the BEST dumplings in Sydney as they are consistently good. I am not sure if I agree with him – I wouldn’t say its the BEST dumplings in Sydney, but he sure does love them. So when I asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, he suggested DTF.

We had an early dinner, 6 pm and the place was already busy! Thankfully we didn’t have to wait at all and walked straight in. I left all the ordering to ‘The Mother’ (first time ever!) and surprisingly, he ordered well!

Started with my favourite silken tofu with pork floss and a thousand year old egg. ‘The Mother’ is not a huge fan of this, he doesn’t like pork floss and hates cold tofu.

However, this is probably one of my favourite dishes, soft, silky tofu with pork floss and gooey, creamy thousand year old egg. How can he not like thousand year old egg?

We ordered Shanghainese noodles with chicken and soup on the side. The noodles cooked to perfection, slippery and oh so soft.

The chicken incredibly tender, and the soup delicate and lots of flavour. It really complemented the noodles well.

Two servings of xiao long bao – steamed pork dumplings and steamed crab meat and pork dumplings – 8 in each. They are as good as I remembered them to be. Make sure they are cool enough before putting the whole thing in your mouth, as they are juicy and the juice can burn your mouth! Yes, it has happened to me before, a hard lesson learnt! ‘The Mother’ loved it so much that he ate 14 and left me with TWO! yes… TWO – one of each!


The stir fry black pepper steak is a favourite of ours. The meat deliciously tender and succulent with a nice peppery kick. Unfortunately silly me forgot to take a picture, you just have to trust me that it was good!

Green beans with pork mince is also another favourite, and by this stage, we were both getting extremely full!


Service is efficient, by the time we finished at 7pm, there were a queue of people waiting to dine. Don’t fret, turnover is quite quick, so don’t be put off by the queues. However, in saying that, I don’t usually like to wait.

Incredibly full, we really couldn’t stomach any dessert and waddled to the movies to watch Harry Porter. Not a bad film, although the last 45 mins dragged a little.

You can’t have a birthday without a cake right? Earlier that day, I made him a tiramisu. My mixer is currently broken, so I wanted to do something relatively easy that doesn’t require a lot of hard labour!


For the life of me I can’t remember where I got the recipe from but being the lazy cook that I am, I picked the easiest and simplest!


Ingredients

  • 4 eggs, separated (i didn’t have enough eggs so used 2)
  • 1/2 cup Caster sugar (reduced my sugar to only 1/3)
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 1/3 cup coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)
  • 200ml thickened cream
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 28 sponge finger biscuits
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (didn’t have cocoa powder so grated some dark chocolate!)

Method

  • Beat egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and creamy. Gently fold in mascarpone and liqueur.
  • Whip cream to firm peaks, fold into mascarpone mixture.
  • Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, fold into mascarpone mixture, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 mins.
  • Combine coffee and warm water in a shallow dish, stirring until coffee dissolves. Dip biscuits 1 at a time in coffee, turning to coat. Place in a single layer, over the base of a 6cm-deep, 18cm x 28 cm (base) baking dish.
  • Spread half the mascarpone mixture over biscuits to cover. Repeat layers with remaining biscuits, coffee, mascarpone mixture.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours.
  • Dust top with cocoa powder and serve.

Voila….

To my dear husband, best friend, and the most important person in my life – Happy Birthday and here’s to many more to come!

GA’s ratings for DTF: 7.5 / 10

Din Tai Fung

644 George Street

Sydney 2000

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